How To Make Garlic Pan Bread On A Campfire

by Paul Kirtley

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Pan breads are quick and easy to make, adding a great element to your camping menus. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Pan breads are quick and easy to make, adding a great element to your camping menus. Photo: Amanda Quaine

How to make garlic pan bread on a campfire was something I needed to find the answer to. Or, at least, I wanted to work out how to make a good garlic pan bread on the campfire.

I was working from first principles and had only basic ingredients available.

When we undertook a journey on the Bloodvein river in 2014, we had a number of pre-packed fry pan bread mixes from Cache Lake amongst the food packed for the 14-day journey.

In 2015, we returned to Canada for another journey on this wonderful river system. We were disappointed to discover, however, that the Cache Lake fry pan breads were no longer available from the outfitter. Something to do with import or food regulations he told us.

The previous year, these pan breads had become a firm favourite and part of our daily routine. We’d set up camp, get a fire going, get the kettle on and, while the kettle was boiling, make up a mix of pan bread. This would then be cooked off and we’d have a piece of tasty, somewhat greasy, pan bread with our pint mugs of tea before cooking dinner proper.

At the end of a day’s paddling, this combo of bread and tea was a good way to perk ourselves up. It started the process of getting fluid, carbs and fat back into our bodies. It became part of our daily routine. On the days when we were particularly weary – after a long distance or working into a headwind for most of the day – the pep up our brew and bread provided was significant.

With renewed energy, we could then get on with sourcing and splitting more firewood, preparing ingredients and cooking dinner, discussing the plans for the next day, and so on.

So, with the absence of the pan bread mixes but plenty of flour, baking powder and a variety of herbs and spices in our wanigan, I set about making an equivalent to our favourite from scratch.

After a few goes, not all of which proved as successful as I would have hoped, I arrived at a formula for making a garlic pan bread that worked. And it worked consistently. Some might even call it a recipe.

This quickly became a favourite and the speed of production decreased dramatically. We most often had it as a snack, not long after arriving at our camp but sometimes it was saved to accompany our main evening meal.

Below is my recipe for garlic pan bread over a campfire. The photos were taken one evening during the 2015 Bloodvein river trip.

Making A Garlic Pan Bread

Ingredients

First, the ingredients you need, from top left to bottom right – garlic powder, basil, black pepper, salt, olive oil, baking powder and flour. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Pouring flour

Pour six good handfuls of flour into the mixing pot. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

handful of garlic powder

Add two healthy palmfulls of garlic powder. This is garlic bread after all… Photo: Amanda Quaine.

salt in hand

Add about a teaspoon of salt. Photo: Amanda Quaine

dried basil

Add a good shake of dried basil. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Add a good palmful of baking powder. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Add a good palmful of baking powder. Photo: Amanda Quaine

dried ingredients

That’s all the dried ingredients in the mixing bowl. Make sure you’ve added them all before you add any water. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Mixing dried ingredients

Next, mix all the dried ingredients so that each is evenly distributed in the dry mixture. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Pouring water

Make a bit of a well in the centre of the dry mix and add some water – only a small amount to start with. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Mixing

Start to mix and make a dough. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the flour and initial water is as consolidated as possible, add some more water. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the flour and initial water is as consolidated as possible, add some more water. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Again mix in the water.  The aim is to achieve a good, solid dough. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Again mix in the water. The aim is to achieve a good, solid dough. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Keep mixing! Photo: Amanda Quaine

Keep mixing! Photo: Amanda Quaine

This is getting there but still a little dry. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

This is getting there but still a little dry. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Adding just a touch more water.  It really doesn't need much now.  If on the other hand, the mixture had been a little too wet in the previous photo, we could add a dusting of flour at this stage to dry it a little. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Adding just a touch more water. It really doesn’t need much now. If on the other hand, the mixture had been a little too wet in the previous photo, we could add a dusting of flour at this stage to dry it a little. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Dough ready for the pan

This is looking good. Solid, not too sticky and ready for the pan… Photo: Amanda Quaine.

This type of bread is effectively fried in the pan, so set your fire lay accordingly. Photo: Amanda Quaine

This type of bread is effectively fried in the pan, so set your fire lay accordingly. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Set the pan over the fire and add some oil.  Don't get it too hot. The olive oil will add great flavour to the bread. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Set the pan over the fire and add some oil. Don’t get it too hot. The olive oil will add great flavour to the bread. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Put a little bit of dough in the oil and wait for it to start sizzling. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Put a little bit of dough in the oil and wait for it to start sizzling. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Once the dough is sizzling, take the pan off the fire and set it down on a flat, stable surface (usually, the ground works just fine). Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the dough is sizzling, take the pan off the fire and set it down on a flat, stable surface (usually, the ground works just fine). Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Now add the dough to the hot oil in the pan.  Be careful not to burn yourself - remember the pan and the oil are hot. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Now add the dough to the hot oil in the pan. Be careful not to burn yourself – remember the pan and the oil are hot. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Squash the dough down flatter and wider. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Squash the dough down flatter and wider. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the dough has been flattened as much as needed, then bring some of the hot oil up on top of the dough.  This helps to start cooking the bread, prepares it for being flipped and adds flavour. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Once the dough has been flattened as much as needed, then bring some of the hot oil up on top of the dough. This helps to start cooking the bread, prepares it for being flipped and adds flavour. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Put the pan back onto the heat. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Put the pan back onto the heat. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Keep pushing the dough down into the oil and bringing oil up on top if you can.  Also, rotate the bread within the pan, as there will undoubtedly be hot-spots in the fire, which mean some parts of the base of the bread will cook more quickly than others.  You don't want to burn it.  Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Keep pushing the dough down into the oil and bringing oil up on top if you can. Also, rotate the bread within the pan, as there will undoubtedly be hot-spots in the fire, which mean some parts of the base of the bread will cook more quickly than others. You don’t want to burn it. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

As well as rotating the bread within the pan, regularly check the underside to make sure it is not cooking too quickly or even burning. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

As well as rotating the bread within the pan, regularly check the underside to make sure it is not cooking too quickly or even burning. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

When the bottom is browned off nicely, flip the bread and cook it on the other side too. Photo: Amanda Quaine

When the bottom is browned off nicely, flip the bread and cook it on the other side too. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Once both sides are browned, turn the bread back to the first side again.  The fire will have died down a bit now and you can make sure the bread is cooked through. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once both sides are browned, turn the bread back to the first side again. The fire will have died down a bit now and you can make sure the bread is cooked through. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

This bread is looking good now and I'm just finishing heating it through. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

This bread is looking good now and I’m just finishing heating it through. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Remember to keep rotating the bread in the pan as well as checking the underside. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Remember to keep rotating the bread in the pan as well as checking the underside. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the bread is ready, take the pan off the fire. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Once the bread is ready, take the pan off the fire. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Sprinkle some more basil on the top of the bread. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Sprinkle some more basil on the top of the bread. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Looking good and ready to eat. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Looking good and ready to eat. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Dividing the bread

When on trips, where everyone is working hard and inevitably hungry at the end of the day, it’s important to share food out fairly, so rather than people just pulling chunks of bread off, I prefer to divide it up more geometrically… Photo: Amanda Quaine.

You can see the bread is still a bit doughy in the middle but served warm this works really well.  It's quick to make and a very tasty starter or accompaniment to the main meal. Photo: Amanda Quaine

You can see the bread is still a bit doughy in the middle but served warm this works really well. It’s quick to make and a very tasty starter or accompaniment to the main meal. Photo: Amanda Quaine

Pan Breads – Quick, Easy and Tasty

Pan breads of this type are quick and easy to make, adding a great element to your camping menus. The are delicious, punching above their weight in terms of flavour. They are also both filling and calorific, providing not just carbohydrates but also fats, as well as replacing salt.

The garlic pan bread proved a firm favourite on our canoe journey. I’ll definitely be making them again on future trips.

Let me and other readers know about your most memorable improvised culinary creation while on a trip in the comments below…

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog:

Medicinal Use Of Balsam Fir For Cuts, Grazes & Sores

Six Men, Three Boats and The Bloodvein: Canoeing A Wilderness River

How To Pack Enough Food For A Week In A PLCE Side Pocket

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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.

Latest posts by Paul Kirtley (see all)

 

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Collier

Hi Paul, looks great! Just wondering if the ingredients can be pre-mixed before hand and the mixture taken on trip rather than all the ingredients individually (save on packing space etc)?

Reply

Andy

The dry ingredients can be pre-mixed ahead of time. I usually do this when I go camping.

Reply

Richard Collier

Thanks for the confirmation Andy. I know sometimes ingredients cant be premixed (such as bread, the salt kills the yeast) so thought it worth checking before I go out and bake myself a brick!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Andy,

I sometimes do this but on longer trips prefer the flexibility of keeping them separate. Carrying flour, baking powder, powdered milk, powdered egg, salt and fat, you can make pan breads, bannock, flat breads, pancakes, dumplings and more.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Richard,

Yes, you could if you have planned your meals that way. But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this thread, on the longer trips I prefer the flexibility of keeping the ingredients separate – same as in the kitchen.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Andy

Thanks for this article! That looks delicious!

It is very similar to what we would call bannock in the American bushcraft circles I run in. The base ingredients I use are:
1 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of water

From there, you can add anything you like, really. I like to add 1/4 teaspoon of oregano (a little goes a long way!) to add an Italian bread flavor, and some chopped onions, as well as garlic.
Sometimes I will cube some summer sausage as well and add it to the mix. I will definitely have to try the basil!

You mixed your bread with very little water. That helps keep clean up to a minimum, since you don’t have dough sticking to everything. I use more water than you do for 2 reasons: I have found that my bread cooks faster with a little more water, and secondly, bread made from drier dough gives me a stomach ache. If I add a little more water, the bread is much easier on my stomach.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Andy,

There are a lot of different bannock recipes. The one we typically use and teach on our courses at Frontier Bushcraft is

3 handfuls of plain flour
2 handfuls of powdered milk
1 teaspoon of baking powder

We often add dried fruit to this, which as well as providing a nice taste, helps keep the bread moist for longer if not being consumed immediately.

If we don’t add fruit, then a teaspoon of sugar can help improve the taste.

This mix goes really well with bacon in the mornings.

Thanks for sharing what you do and let me know how you enjoy the basil 🙂

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Dave Palfreyman

Great, thanks Paul a new recipe to try out.
This very similar to the recipe (if you would call it that) I use or show others. I tend towards self raising flour so I don’t need baking powder, and one less thing to carry. I add sugar. if feeling flash I like to add brown sugar for a fuller flavour. Then add in dried fruit or herbs depending on preference.

Dave P.

Reply

Jelle

Hi Paul,

Thank you for sharing this article! This is something I’m willing to try out very soon.
We once ate a frikandel (dutch meat snack which is usually fried) with syrup at 7 in the morning.

We wanted to do a short overnight just 5km down the river, we figgured the canoe would be a nice way to travel. After a little bit of paddling we found ourselves a beautiful spot. Because of rain the water level was higher than usual and the water wasn’t that clear either. Our canoe hit an obstacle under water and we, including our supplies went for a swim! Luckily most things were tied firmly, except for our food supplies… and a paddle. Yes we were stupid enough not to put everything in waterproof bags because it was a short trip and we were all experienced in canoeing….. (quite ironic isn’t it)

We ended up with the snacks and syrup which I had in my backpack because the lack of space in the other bags. So there we were, standing in our underpants at the campfire. Drying out all our clothes, sleeping bags, phones and torched and one of us making a paddle from wood. We managed to catch a trout so we eat that, which was nice! Leaving the snacks and syrup for breakfast.

We still have our improvised wooden paddle hanging at the café of our campsite, reminding us and others to go well prepared! None the less, best canoe trip ever!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jelle,

I read your story with interest and it made me smile. Thanks for sharing this tale with us 🙂

Let me know how you like the pan bread when you try it.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Alan Linee

Hi Paul.
Pan breads are a favourite of mine! Thanks for sharing this recipe it looks yummy and I shall try it soon..
Thankyou and best wishes.
Alan

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Alan,

Let me me know how you like it.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Greg Zummo

This recipe didn’t sound like much, but as I looked at the pictures, my mouth started to water.
I am going to try this in the backyard first, and next spring I hope to good at making them for real camping. Thanks again for a great blog.

Reply

Sandy

That looks awesome Paul. I think this is one recipe I will try for sure.
Thanks
Sandy

Reply

Julian Morgans

Hi Paul. Love the bannock recipe. Bannock is something we often make with the Scouts in our troop, they really enjoy cooking it over the open fire.

For a 1 pan meal suggestion how about making up your chicken soup in a trangia pan (dried or from a tin if weight isn’t the issue) drop in a packet of super noodles – chicken n0odle soup! delicious, filling and easy. enjoy with the bannock

Reply

Clifford wright

Hi Paul I enjoyed your blog and recipe. I’d like to add a couple. I premix every thing but the water. Along with the flour and baking powder I like to toss in mixed fruit brown sugar and hot apple drink mix . Tastes awsome. For a breakfast one I’ll put in garlic powder and cooked pieces of bacon.

Reply

Jim Watkins

Great article Paul and your camp cuisine efforts a wildland comfort. Before a day climb across the
North Cascades I cooked bannack loaf to help provide calories. The recipe was basically same as yours,
but I use whole ground grain mixed with cornmeal. Other ingredients included dried fruit or wild
berries. Chopped onion and a tin of tuna or other meat mixed in the dough great and tasty. Pan
bread is best cooked slow and off direct fire.

Reply

Wil Chambers

Hi Paul, wonderful article as always. I use the same “recipe” as you do for a base with different combinations of herbs except with non wheat flour mixtures (medical issues). One thing I do change up is I use half of the flour and add cornmeal which I usually carry for dredging fish in. I use different herb mixtures and even mix it with wild green onion tops or dehydrated if necessary and rehydrated yellow onion and some honey crystals.
Thanks again and keep up the great episodes
Your California fan
Wil

Reply

paul elston

Hi Paul,
This looks like a good recipe that i want to try, would you think i could try and cook this on a Jetboil stove and pan as well as on a campfire?
Thanks
Paul.

Reply

Andrew Casey

Just for future reference. If you cook this at home and have some left over, save it and make it into croutons for a salad. Have just completed such and endeavour and

Reply

craig

That’s a neat recipe. Have often made pancakes while out camping…going to try that one.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Let me know what you think Craig.

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Dave

Hi Paul: I really enjoy your blog. I have read articles for 2 yrs and have never heard anyone talk about what to use for cleaning your dishes, and pans after a meal. Also what would you take for various cleaning items in a SHFT situation

Reply

Dave

Hi Paul: I really enjoy your blog. I have read articles for 2 yrs and have never heard anyone talk about what to use for cleaning your dishes, and pans after a meal. Also what would you take for various cleaning items in a SHFT situation.

Reply

Jon M

That sounds really good, Paul, I’m going to have to try it soon. This is my favorite fry bread, I have small hands so converting might be tricky. I usually plan on 2 servings a day. It also make a great trail pizza with a sliced mozzarella stick, some pepperoni slices and dehydrated tomatoes.

Basic Fry Bread
Yield three ½ cup portions which make 2 servings each:
To a bowl add:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup powdered milk or powdered buttermilk
½ c of mix makes 2 servings, individually package in freezer bags with instructions.
When ready to fry, add; 1 tsp. vegetable shortening, ghee, olive oil, lard or bacon fat to each 2 serving bag. Mix ingredients in the bag, add water to enough water make a dough.* Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut off a corner of the bag and squeeze into a pan to make 2 servings. Bake in a fry pan coated with oil or a fat, flip when needed. It is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.

Add dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon, foraged fruit, bits of cheese or bacon if desired. Serve with ghee, olive oil, syrup, honey, or press out thinly in the pan, fold over and make grilled cheese or pizza pockets.

*Note, for lighter fluffier type of bread, mix 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar before adding water, it will react with the soda and baking powder.

Reply

Rob

Steady on! I’m sitting here recovering from the intense exercise and stress of my first Webinar and you’re talking food – I’ll be scoffing all night if I start now.
Thanks to all who’ve shared recipes as I’ve lots of variations and ideas for Scout summer camp now.
All the best,
Rob

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hhahah Rob, apologies if I’ve been working you too hard! 🙂

Hope you enjoyed the webinar and found it valuable.

Let us know how you get on with this recipe as well as all the variations added by others here in the comments. It’s turned into a nice little extended resource…

Go well.

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Dave Welsby

I’m going to have to try this next time I’m in the bush. The tins used are they aluminum?
We also need to see how you make your coffee!

Reply

Erik Litts

I just wanted to thank-you for the recipe. I made some spaghetti for the adults in our Scout troop and this was a perfect side. Though I adapted it somewhat by mixing a generous helping of grated Parmesan cheese into the dough and then melting some mozzarella on top.

Reply

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